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2011 Overseas Visitation to U.S. States & Cities Estimates Released

Subtle Shifts in Key Traveler Characteristics Noted

May 22, 2012 - Today the U.S. Department of Commerce announced the results of its 2011 Survey program which highlights the states, cities, and territories that benefitted from overseas travelers to the United States. In 2011 overseas arrivals to the United States posted a six percent increase compared to 2010. This marked a continuation of the 2010 dramatic reversal of the visitation decline experienced in 2009. Many states and cities posted significant increases in 2011 and several experienced losses. The 2011 overseas visitation estimates to U.S. destinations (states, cities and regions) and origin region/country market profiles provide information on contributing factors and traveler characteristics behind market changes. Note: There is evidence that overseas travelers visited all U.S. states/territories, however sample sizes (i.e. # of respondents) determine which destination data can be publicly released; see the OTTI statistical data release policy at:

New York State was the most visited state by overseas travelers in 2011 for the tenth consecutive year. Visitation to New York increased 10 percent, increasing its market share to 34 percent. California moved into second position, with a nine percent increase in visitation. Florida slipped to third position, its visitation having declined by two percent. Nevada, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois, Guam and New Jersey rounded out the top 10 states in visitation estimates. Of the 21 states/territories for which estimates are available, double-digit increases were experienced by six states. Texas and Colorado posted 25 and 30 percent increases, respectively, in their visitation estimates, the highest growth among all states.

The cities most visited by overseas travelers in 2011 were New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, Washington, DC, Honolulu, Boston and Chicago. Of the 21 city visitation estimates issued, all but five posted increases. Seven states posted double-digit increases in 2011 compared to 13 cities that registered double-digit increases in 2010. The cities that experienced the largest visitation increases were Dallas, Houston, San Jose and Las Vegas, all over 15 percent.

To view the top states and cities visited by overseas travelers, go to:

Changes in a destination's visitation estimate vary from year-to-year due to changes in origin market ‘demand side factors,' shifts in traveler characteristics and normal statistical error. For the 2011 top three:

  • Overseas visitation to New York State was up 10 percent in 2011. Travel to the state, from the following regions, was as follows: Europe (5.0 million), up eight percent; Asia (1.5 million), up 30 percent; South America (1.5 million), up 22 percent, the Middle East (434,000), up two percent, and Africa (149,000), up four percent. However, travel from Oceania (460,000) was down 13 percent. New York City hosted 98 percent of the travelers to the state.
  • California state visitation was up nine percent. Travel from Europe (2.6 million), up 12 percent; Asia (2.0 million), up four percent; and Oceania (676,000), up 14 percent. Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Anaheim accounted for 60 percent, 47 percent, 13 percent and six percent, respectively, of visitation to the state (multiple cities visited).
  • Florida state visitation was down two percent. Travel from Europe (2.7 million), down three percent; South America (1.8 million), up two percent; and Asia (319,000), up 11 percent. Visits from the Caribbean Islands to Florida (461,000), were down seven percent. Miami and Orlando accounted for 52 percent and 49 percent of Florida travelers, respectively. Arrivals to Miami were down five percent whereas arrivals to Orlando were up three percent.

Traveler Characteristics:
Changes in key traveler characteristics may also influence visitation, such as, business versus leisure travel, the number of destinations visited, and/or the traveler's use of transportation within the country. Some of the key shifts in overseas traveler characteristics that occurred in 2011 compared to 2010, and over the past several years, that can impact the destinations visited include:

  • Leisure travel, as a purpose of trip, declined slightly to 67.6% share of all purposes; this is still at the highest of all purpose of trip percentages since OTTI started the survey in 1983. Business and convention travel declined slightly, as percentages of share, as did visiting friends and relatives. Student travel and ‘other' travel increased by one percentage point.
  • Business travel's share dropped slightly in 2011, to 19.8 percent. The share of business travel has declined for four straight years and was down from a high of 30.2 percent in 2000.
  • ‘Conventional' tour package travel share dropped almost one percentage point to 16.1 percent. Its share has decreased in five of the last six years. This infers that visitors are traveling more independently and/or are constructing their own ‘packages' virtually.
  • The average number of states visited in 2011 remained at 1.6. However, the percentage of travelers visiting three or more states increased by 0.5 percentage point offsetting the slight decline in those visiting only one or two states. Likewise, the average number of destinations visited remained at 2.0. There was a slight net increase in the number of travelers visiting more than only one destination.
  • The length of stay in the U.S. averaged 18.1 nights, up 1.1 nights from 2010.
  • Regarding the use of transportation modes while in the United States, there was a notable increase in the use of inter-city transportation (airlines, rail and buses). However, there continues to be a declining trend in the use of automobiles (rental cars, company/private autos). Public transit (subway/bus) experienced a marked increase during 2011.
  • The share of first time travelers to the United States increased three percentage points to 28 percent. Among repeat travelers to the U.S., the average was 1.7 trips in the previous 12 months.
  • Women travelers as a percent of the total increased to almost 45 percent in 2011. Their share has increased in 10 of the last 12 years.
  • Activity participation showed an uptick for those visiting historical places, national parks and cultural heritage sites.

OTTI has released 11 world regional profiles and 24 countries (Colombia, Ireland, Poland & Sweden were added in 2011). In addition, the five sector profiles were also updated for 2011. These profiles provide traveler characteristics for each market between 2010 and 2011 along with the destinations visited each year. Changes in the traveler characteristics and visitation patters by region, country and sector each year impact the total visitation estimates reported by OTTI, and by reviewing these changes, one may be able to better explain the changes in visitation at the destination level.
Also released with this update are:

  • International Visitor Spending in the U.S. report
  • Key Facts About International Travelers to the U.S.
  • Overseas Market Profile

To view these data reports, please go to:

In 2011, OTTI collected 38,423 surveys; up five percent from the number collected in 2010.This was also the largest number of responses collected since 1999. Contributing to the increase was the implementation of supplemental survey collections at 12 gateway airports. Collections funded by destinations at their respective departure airports account for over seven percent of the collections. The database that provides a count of all overseas travelers was also enhanced as records from the 36 visa waiver countries are now captured electronically, improving data quality.

Destination visitation estimates are publicly released for 21 states and 21 cities. The limited number of estimates for destinations visited is due to limitations in sample size and OTTI's statistical policy which requires a minimum of 400 survey respondents for a public estimate.

In addition to the aggregate level data available on the web site, OTTI also offers detailed and custom reports or data on a subscription basis using the 35 tables shown in the overseas profile. For information on the research programs that were used to generate the market intelligence issued, see the publications section and custom reports section in the Research Programs area of the Survey of International Air Travelers, at: If you have any questions or need any additional information concerning the visitation estimates, please contact OTTI on 202-482-0140.

The Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI) is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating international travel and tourism statistics for the U.S. Travel and Tourism Statistical System. For more monthly travel and tourism-related trade data dating back to 1992, please visit:

U.S. Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries (OTTI)
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 1003
Washington, DC 20230
(202) 482-3809

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